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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: Do I need a Covid vaccine booster shot to travel to France?

The French government is pushing a booster dose campaign as one of its key strategies in the fight against Covid, and for many a booster is a requirement for a vaccine pass. But what is the situation for travellers?

A man receives a booster dose in France.
A man receives a booster dose in France. We take a look at whether these extra injections are needed for travel. (Photo by CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / AFP)

Question: I plan to travel to France next week but have still not received a booster dose. Do I need to get one before I leave? 

France has a traffic light system for travel, with countries listed as either green, amber or red. If you are unvaccinated, then you will face different restrictions on travel to France depending on what category country you are travelling from – full details HERE.

For now though, French border authorities are not taking into account whether or not you have had a booster dose.

This means that if you are vaccinated but haven’t received a booster dose, you will not face the extra travel restrictions.

The French Health Ministry told The Local: “a booster is not yet required to leave or return to France.” 

To count as fully vaccinated for travel purposes, you must meet the following conditions:

  • Have received a vaccine that is approved by the European Medicines Agency – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (also known as Janssen). The Indian-produced Covishield vaccine is also now accepted by France 
  • Be at least seven days after the second injection for double-dose vaccines or after a single dose for those people who had previously had Covid-19
  • Be at least 28 days after the injection for people who had the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine
  • People who have received a vaccine that is recognised by the World Health Organisation but not yet approved for use by the EMA can travel to France if they have had a ‘top up’ single dose of either Pfizer or Moderna 

Both EU and non-EU vaccination certificates are accepted at the border.

The vaccine pass 

However, although you can enter France without a booster, you may find your life curtailed once you are here.

In France, a vaccine pass is required to access sites like bars, restaurants, cinemas and tourist sites such as museums and galleries – and a booster is required for a valid vaccine pass.

The vaccine pass requires a booster shot if more than seven months has passed since your last vaccine dose (or two months if they you vaccinated with Janssen) – and this rule is the same for French residents and visitors or tourists.

Full details here.

From February 15th, you must have received a booster dose if more than four months has passed since your last dose (or two months for Janssen).

If you have had the booster then you are entitled to a vaccine pass – the seven or four-month limits refer only to people who have not had a booster.

The booster rule does not apply to under 18s.

Foreign vaccination certificates

If you were vaccinated in an EU or Schengen zone country, your vaccination certificate and booster is fully compatible with the French health pass.

Those vaccinated outside the EU, however, will need to covert their vaccination certificates into a French code once they arrive in the country – here’s how

If you were vaccinated in England, Wales or Scotland, the NHS vaccination certificate is now compatible with the French health pass app, but there is a technical point you should be aware of:

NHS vaccination codes are only valid for 30 days and since the deactivation programme began, the Tous Anti Covid app also deactivates expired NHS codes, meaning that those vaccinated in the UK must download a new NHS code every 30 days and add it to the French app in order to keep their pass working.

If your pass is deactivated, here’s how to reactivate it.

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For members

BREXIT

French government clarifies post-Brexit rules on pets for second-home owners

Brexit hasn't just brought about changes in passport rules for humans, pets are also affected and now the French government has laid out the rules for pet passports for British second-home owners.

French government clarifies post-Brexit rules on pets for second-home owners

Pre-Brexit, people travelling between France and the UK could obtain an EU Pet Passport for their car, dog or ferret which ensured a hassle-free transport experience.

But since the UK left the EU things have become more complicated – and a lot more expensive – for UK residents wanting to travel to France with pets.

You can find a full breakdown of the new rules HERE, but the main difference for people living in the UK is that that they now need an Animal Health Certificate for travel.

Unlike the Pet Passport, a new ACH is required for each trip and vets charge around £100 (€118) for the certificate. So for people making multiple trips a year, especially those who have more than one pet, the charges can quickly mount up.

UK nationals who live in France can still benefit from the EU Pet Passport, but until now the situation for second-home owners has been a little unclear.

However the French Agriculture ministry has now published updated information on its website.

The rules state: “The veterinarian can only issue a French passport to an animal holding a UK/EU passport issued before January 1st, 2021, after verifying that the animal’s identification number has been registered in the Fichier national d’identification des carnivores domestiques (I-CAD).”

I-CAD is the national database that all residents of France must register their pets in – find full details HERE.

The ministry’s advice continues: “If not registered, the veterinarian may proceed to register the animal in I-CAD, if the animal’s stay in France is longer than 3 consecutive months, in accordance with Article 22 of the AM of August 1st, 2012 on the identification of domestic carnivores.”

So if you are staying in France for longer than 90 days (which usually requires a visa for humans) your pet can be registered and get a Pet Passport, but those staying less than three months at a time will have to continue to use the AHC.

The confusion had arisen for second-home owners because previously some vets had been happy to issue the Passport using proof of a French address, such as utility bills. The Ministry’s ruling, however, makes it clear that this is not allowed.

So here’s a full breakdown of the rules;

Living in France

If you are living in France full time your pet is entitled to an EU Pet Passport regardless of your nationality (which means your pet has more travel rights than you do. Although they probably still rely on you to drive the car/book the ferry tickets).

Your cat, dog or ferret must be fully up to date with their vaccinations and must be registered in the national pet database I-CAD (full details here).

Once issued, the EU Pet Passport is valid for the length of the animal’s life, although you must be sure to keep up with their rabies vaccinations. Vets in France usually charge between €50-€100 for a consultation and completing the Passport paperwork.

Living in the UK

If you are living in the UK and travelling to France (or the rest of the EU) you will need an Animal Health Certificate for your cat, dog or ferret.

The vaccination requirements are the same as for the EU Pet Passport, but an ACH is valid for only 10 days after issue for entry to the EU (and then for four months for onward travel within the EU).

So if you’re making multiple trips in a year you will need a new certificate each time.

UK vets charge around £100 (€118) for a certificate, although prices vary between practices. Veterinary associations in the UK are also warning of delays in issuing certificates as many people begin travelling again after the pandemic (often with new pets bought during lockdown), so you will need to book in advance. 

Second-home owners

Although previously some French vets had been happy to issue certificates with only proof of an address in France, the French government has now clarified the rules on this, requiring that pets be registered within the French domestic registry in order to get an EU Pet Passport.

This can only be done if the pet is staying in France for more than three months. The three months must be consecutive, not over the course of a year.

UK pets’ owners will normally require a visa if they want to stay in France for more than three months at a time (unless they have dual nationality with an EU country) – find full details on the rules for people HERE.

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